Thursday, January 27, 2011

Respectfully Disagree or Two-Faced?

For two reasons, I’m glad I elected to watch the State of the Union speech on my smartphone last night rather than television. With split-screen infographics, It was far more informative and permitted me to simultaneously watch something else on television.

If you missed it on computer, smartphone or iPad, it is worth viewing, even after the fact.Capture

What struck me though was the question of whether “politics” teaches our children to ethically and respectfully disagree or to be two-faced.

Is the grown-up version teaching kids to rise above the cruelty and unfairness of playground/hallway politics or enabling it.

Kids hear everything their parents say. As early at 5 years old, they don’t miss anything, however softly spoken or even on the phone, and they remember every word.

So why do we think kids can somehow distinguish the difference between Senator McConnell’s smirk-laden derisives prior to the speech mocking the importance of government investment in infrastructure and quality of life, and then understand his glad-handing along right behind the President’s back as he entered the chambers to give the speech?

Kids get heavy doses of cruel politics long before high school now and parents everywhere work hard to ensure kids aren’t contaminated. Don’t think for a minute that kids didn’t see the equally childish and disrespectful Twittering by many Congress members during the speech.

Republicans, especially ultra-conservative Tea Partiers, elbow everyone else off of the principles underlying “family values” but as I watched Representative Michele Bachmann give her unauthorized response to the President (both the version where she looks into the camera and the one where she appears to be talking to someone off camera the entire time) she didn’t seem that concerned about family values.

Her eyes were straight-forward, kind of, but her words and gestures were filled with half-truths and misinformation and open disrespect.

Maybe we should have politics x-rated for children or cover their eyes and ears when politicians speak. Or, maybe newscasters should warn parents that content may be offensive or filled with “lies.” Maybe all political commentary should begin only when the “family hour” is over.

Don’t think for a minute that kids are not paying attention or that they don’t pick up on it.

Just ask my 5-year-old grandson. Better yet, just ask his Mom.

No comments: